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Tahoe Backcountry Season Opener, *EARLY* November 2002

Chris Gallardo in the Tahoe Backcountry on November 11th (photo: P.MacRostie)

El Nino?


The first storm of what we hope will be a big winter hit Tahoe in early November.  Sadly, I couldn't make it out, but Pete and BC Rider were representin'.


Here's their report:


(click any thumbnail for a larger photo)

Winter Has Made it to the Tahoe Backcountry:

By BCRider

(Photos and editorial comments in parentheses by Pete)

The long, hot months of summer are usually depressing for the backcountry slider. By the time fall comes the anticipation of winter being right around the corner becomes unbearable. It’s so close yet so far.  (Especially with lots of first turn threads popping up on Ttips since mid September)  With growing envy of our counterparts in AK, Colorado, and Utah already getting first turns of the season our patience finally paid off.  Mother nature sent in Old Man Winter with a fierce winter storm that would last four days. The storm had the power of a mid-winter storm with lots of precip and decent snow levels.  It started on Thursday 11/7 and lasted until Sunday 11/10. When it was over it left a foot of rain in the valley and 2-5ft of snow in the mountains surrounding Tahoe.

Winter was not only here it was pissed off and wanted to make a statement.

I had planned on checking accumulations on Sunday and posted a message on the ttips board.  A combination of the storm still brewing, not getting any partners together, and the kids being at grandma’s made it easy to sleep in and blow it off.  In the back of my head I knew I had a wildcard of Monday being a holiday.  Thank you Veterans for our freedom!

Got an email and then a phone call Sunday night from fellow ttipper, Pete from Folsom. (Keep your phone numbers listed, you may want to hear from us)  He said he was getting a small group together for tomorrow in the Carson BC area. Having not spent much time in that zone and desperately needing to make turns made it an easy decision to make…  "Count me in", I said.    (Erin and I were both expected at work Monday, but being in sales Erin asked me if in February I would remember another day at work or BC trip on Veteran’s Day.  I went off in my head that Danny was out of school too and I was in.)

The plan was to meet in the parking lot of Mc’Ds at 4:30am, ski Carson, and be home around 1pm.  I’ve been working on a proto type pack for Osprey and wanted to finish it Sunday night so I could test it in the field. At 11pm I realized I wasn’t gonna make it and started loaded my new Osprey Ceres 50 pack which I wanted to test as well. My head finally hit the pillow around midnight and the alarm was set for 3:45am. Not much later the alarm went off and I took a quick shower, loaded up the ride, and heading for the meeting spot.

I was 5 minutes late (tolerable) and the group was ready and waiting.  (One car came into the lot a few minutes before Chris.  We pulled our rig from our lighted spot at Chevron to closer to where it parked in the dark lot.  Our vehicle full of guys scared the hell out of the poor McDonald’s employee alone in her car at 4:30.  We were contemplating apologizing, but thought walking over might make it worse when Chris pulled in) The group consisted of Pete, a telemarker, his 15-year-old son Danny, a snowboarder, his friend Erin a rondenee skier with an appetite for destruction, me on a new splitboard, and my trusty bc dog Sierra a lab/retriever mix. We were all fired up on the drive up and got to know each other more.   (Chris and I met at the Sacramento Snow addicts meeting organized on TTips this summer.  I knew Chris would be up for just about any good BC trip we cooked up).

We hit Carson Pass just before daybreak and were treated to a spectacular sunrise. We also saw good amounts of snow that confirmed our excitement. Pete and Erin took the reins and chose a line, as they were familiar with the area. They chose a southern aspect just above a snowpark.  With limited time, a youngster with us, and it being the first trip of the year they choose a gentle, easily accessible slope wisely.   With the storm being completely gone the sky was blue as could be and the new white blanket of snow on the landscape was truly beautiful. It was the type of day dreams are made of and I let out some yells, yelps, and cries of excitement at the trailhead.

The descent was about 1,200ft of vert and we did 2 ½ laps before it was time to go. The first run was the best as the snow was still dry. On the upper 600’ it was fun windpack. The clear skies and warm temps quickly turned the snow to mashed potatoes but it was still a memorable first day of the year.  

Pete showed his strong tele skills (Lucky for Pete, Erin’s camera messed up the photo evidence of an excellent face plant so there will be no film at 11), Erin hiked like an animal and made great turns through the slop, Dan having only spent a handful of days in the bc truly showed some talent and a good grasp of the fundamentals of snowboarding.  I had a great time on the new split and my bad knee felt ok.  

It was a short but glorious day and the season was officially kicked off.  The quick trip cured the depression of summer and provided a much needed attitude adjustment. 

(GOOD NEWS:  Our circle of BC friends continued to expand by hooking up with Chris. 

BAD NEWS:  The short gentle slope left us craving more.  The depression was gone, but the desire for turns burned even brighter after getting a few!)

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